Procrastination is one of those things we all experience at some point. It’s natural to put things off — especially if we perceive them as unpleasant. The whole thing becomes even more unpleasant when you’re under deadline and trying frantically to finish a project on time.
The good news is that you can work around your tendencies. Here is how you can create a situation in which your procrastination doesn’t result in the end of the world:
Acknowledge You Have a Procrastination Problem
The first step to fixing any problem you have is acknowledging that it exists. One of the best things you can do is pay attention to your habits. When are you most likely to procrastinate? It’s common to put things off when you are:
It’s also a good idea to figure out when you work best. I had to stop running errands in the morning because I work best in the morning. I found myself using up all of my prime working time on errands and on taking care of other tasks around the house, and then ended up putting off work later.
Spend a week or two tracking your time use. Pay attention to when you work better, and when you tend to be distracted. Also pay attention to times when you veer off to mess around online, or watch TV. Look for patterns, and acknowledge when you are procrastinating. Understanding the situation can help you work around your procrastination problem.
Designate Time to Work on SOMETHING
If there is something I don’t want to do, and procrastination is an issue as a result, I make it a point to work on something else. Even if I don’t feel like working at all, I try to do something that needs to be done. I start on another project that maybe appeals to me more, or work on something else that needs to be done. If I realize that I’m procrastinating on something specific, I switch gears to a different project. That way, at least I’m being productive in some way.
Set time to work, and make sure you are accomplishing something during that time. At the very least, it will give you a jump on some other project you know you will need to get to eventually.
Work a Little at a Time
Sometimes, the reason procrastination is an issue is that you feel overwhelmed by what you are doing. In order to get around this difficulty, it can help to break the project down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. Once you break down a project into smaller parts, you can work on it a little at a time. Work on a different aspect of the project each day. That can help you avoid putting off the whole project until it’s almost too late, and it can make the whole thing less stressful.
Take Breaks When You Need To
There are times when you need to take a break. If you find yourself winding down, or your mental state is flagging, it can make sense to take a step back and refresh yourself. Consider reading for pleasure, taking a nap, eating a healthy meal, going for a brisk walk, or enjoying some other activity.
If I find myself slowing down and looking for distractions to aid my procrastination, I know that I need to step back. Often, after having a healthy snack and a power nap, I’m ready to get back into it. Other times, I find that it helps to do 10 minutes of exercise followed by 10 minutes of meditation. It’s all about considering what is likely to re-energize me, and that’s what I do. After taking an appropriate break, I often find that I am ready to get back to work.
In many cases, you can overcome procrastination in order to make your schedule work for you. Take the time to figure out why you are procrastinating, and then employ strategies to help you overcome — or at least work around — your difficulty.